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Archive for the tag “The Last Waltz”

stars and stars

not awake; not conscious.

Cover of "The Last Waltz (Special Edition...

Cover of The Last Waltz (Special Edition)

The Last Waltz played four times at a local theater this past Sunday and Monday. A friend agreed to meet me there for the last showing on Monday evening. After a crazy day, I still left in plenty of time, then ran into some of the worst traffic I’ve ever encountered in Albuquerque. Because I knew I’d be late, I turned on my seldom-used cell phone. Almost immediately, I was notified of a voicemail message, which I assumed was from my friend.

The traffic was too insane for me to try to listen to it, so I continued on to my destination, preoccupied by traffic, being late, and the waiting voicemail message. When I arrived, I found a parking place and listened to the voicemail message, no easy task in complete darkness (my car’s inside light recently stopped working). It was from a friend who is traveling and decided, for unknown reasons, to wish me a Merry Christmas on my cell phone. It’s a fluke that I got it.

By then I was definitely late and also preoccupied with wondering why she had called my cell phone. I got out of the car and started crossing the street. The lighting for the side streets in Nob Hill leaves something to be desired. As I was about to step up onto the curb on the other side of the street, some commotion to my right caught my attention–and the much-higher-than-usual curb caught the toe of my right shoe. Splat! Down I went onto both knees.

[Expletive deleted.] I got up, dusted myself off, and continued to the theater, now preoccupied with visions of being sidelined from walking, dancing around my apartment, and my twice-a-week strength training workouts.

awake; conscious.

As it turned out, we had more than enough time to chat, get tickets, and find seats in the theater. Once the movie started, I was fully engrossed. I’ve seen The Last Waltz half a dozen times, but never in a theater. It was definitely worth the time, the traffic, and even the banged up knees to see it that way!

I wrote about The Band a while ago, but didn’t come across this video of Van Morrison doing Caravan until recently. It’s still my favorite performance, but there are no duds anywhere in this star-studded film. I tried to contain the bouncing around in my seat. I guess the benefit of watching it at home is that no one cares if I get up and dance.

Orion Rising (2)

When I got home afterward and was walking from my garage to my front door, I happened to glance up into the sky. There was Orion rising directly overhead with bright stars and planets studding the sky around it.

I stepped out into the street and just watched it for several minutes, awake and conscious.

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turn it up!

The Band, Hamburg, May 1971. Left to right: Ri...

The Band, Hamburg, May 1971. Left to right: Rick Danko, Levon Helm and Richard Manuel. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Band was part of the background music of my life for a while, but at the time I couldn’t have distinguished one musician from another. I wasn’t really paying attention until Robbie Robertson released his first solo album, Robbie Robertson, in 1987. Loved it the first time I heard the first track; love it still–especially the mesmerizing “Somewhere Down the Crazy River.”

Much later I came to appreciate Rick Danko. His voice is the one in my head when I think of The Band. Danko recorded this beautiful acoustic version of “When You Awake” in 2009. It seems even more moving and powerful than The Band’s version.

One of the songs Levon Helm is best known for is “The Weight.” There are a lot of versions of this song, but this one from the documentary The Last Waltz is so good.

Van the man

The Last Waltz has been called the best music documentary ever by some critics. I haven’t seen them all, but it’s definitely my favorite. All the music is fantastic, but the performance that tops the rest is Van Morrison doing “Caravan.” It’s worth watching the whole thing just to get to those five or six minutes. It’s too bad there’s no video available, but this audio gives a sense of the electricity in the auditorium. Turn it up! Little bit louder. Radio!

And then, of course, when we did “Caravan,” which was something that we really just wanted to play together, and I wanted to play some guitar on, and we wanted to do that. And we did this. And we had the horn section and the whole thing, and the way the song built and it built and it built. All of a sudden, at the end, when Van starts kicking his leg up in the air, we were like, “What’s happening here? This is the most wonderful out of control I’ve ever seen him.” And it was just magical, you know, just that whole song, and the performance of that. When we were finished playing that song, when I turned around, you know, to the other guys in the band, and I was like, “Okay,” you know? We were just feeling so good at that moment.

— Robbie Robertson, VH-1 interview on the making of The Last Waltz.

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